Thursday, August 31, 2006

Chapter Four: Dancing on Thin Ice

Sentinel stood at the front of the stage, ready to sing.

Kalira stepped down from the stage for a much needed break, drinking a glass of water as she walked down the steps. She stood at the foot of the stage, watching Sentinel, and glancing warily at the Dark Lord.

Sentinel started to sing a slow, romantic song.

Kalira heard the ominous breathing of Vader’s respirator growing louder, and turned to see him standing only a meter away.

“Would you care to dance?” Vader asked.

Kalira’s eyes got very large. She drank the rest of the water, set the glass down. “Why not?”, she said, smiling.

Kalira took Vader’s arm and was escorted out onto the dance floor. She was trying to treat this as dancing with any other fan of her band. But this wasn’t just any other fan.

Vader watched Sentinel singing. He thought her voice to be very sweet, but that Kalira’s voice was much more polished, much more practiced. He looked down at Kalira, who was studying his chest controls absentmindedly.

“We haven’t been introduced... although I think you already know who I am.” Vader rumbled, breaking Kalira’s train of thought.

“Yes, Lord Vader, I know who you are.” Kalira said, as respectfully and carefully as she could.

“And you might be?” Vader asked.

“Uh, I’m Kalira”, she said, unwilling to give out her last name. She felt like she might need to keep that secret in the event they needed to make a run for it.

“You almost don’t sound certain of that.” Vader mused.

“No, no, I’m sure: my name is Kalira.” she said.

“No last name?” Vader asked.

“It’s... uh... it’s a band thing. A music thing.” she stammered.

Vader grinned behind his mask, amused at her little subterfuge, but unwilling to call her on it.

“How long have you known Sentinel?” Vader asked.

“Sentinel? Oh, you mean Sasha. Uh, 2 years, Lord Vader.” Kalira said. Because of her height, she didn’t have as difficult a time of maintaining eye contact with the Dark Lord as Sentinel did. But Kalira found herself once more studying his chest controls.

“Where did you meet her?” he asked.

“Naboo. We had try out’s at the end of one of our gigs.” Kalira said.

“And, what has she told you about me?” Vader asked.

“Uh... uh, nothing in particular, Lord Vader.” Kalira said, nervously.

“Tell me.” Vader said with the voice of one who is used to having his orders carried out.

“She said... that you were worth saving.” Kalira said. Of all the things she could have said, it seemed the safest one to pick.

“I wasn’t aware I was in need of a rescue.” Vader commented, dryly.

“Well...”, Kalira said. Kalira was wishing desperately that she’d excused herself to the fresher instead of accepting the invitation to dance. Vader was making her increasingly nervous.

“You sing very well.” Vader said.

Kalira looked up at his masked face. “Thank you, m’Lord,” she said.

“How long have you been singing?” he asked.

“Ever since I was a child. When my parents realized I had talent, I was sent to the Hall of Music on Coruscant. I was very young... it was hard. I barely got to see them.” Kalira’s eyes lost their focus as she saw back into her memories. She came back to the present, abruptly. “I don’t think my parents would appreciate my little band. They hoped I’d sing in a famous Opera company.” Kalira smiled wistfully.

“Did your parents give you a choice regarding going to the Hall of Music?” Vader asked.

“No, m’Lord, they didn’t. They thought that it was more important that my ‘talent be given a chance to reach it’s full potential.’”, Kalira said, lowering her voice an octave in order to quote what Vader assumed was her father.

Vader felt a sudden pang of sympathy for the woman. He had had a choice in going to the Jedi Temple, but all the other students had been forced into their life by their midichlorian count.

“You have the right to choose your own future.” Vader rumbled. He almost sounded surprised by what he said, and he realized it was because Sentinel also had that right, whether he liked it or not.

“I think you have that right, as well, m’Lord.” Kalira said.

“What do you mean?” Vader asked.

“I... just mean the Emperor shouldn’t get to rule your life.” she said, carefully.

“He does not rule my life.” Vader growled.

“I’m sorry, m’Lord. I meant no disrespect.” Kalira said.

Vader remained silent. Sentinel finished her song, to some clapping, and started in on the next one.

“What do you and your friends think of Sentinel’s relationship with me?” Vader asked.

“We... we think you’re a very dangerous person, m’Lord.” she said.

“You are worried for her safety?”

“Well, yes, m’Lord. We care a great deal for Sasha.” Kalira said.

“As do I.” Vader stated. “I intend her no harm,” he added.

“I’m glad to hear that, m’Lord.” Kalira said.

“Do you find it strange that she is attracted to me?” Vader asked, curious.

“Well... uh... you are a very sharp dresser.” Kalira said.

Vader let out a loud laugh. His electronic voice enhancer made it almost into an electronic bark, but his body language was obvious, in spite of his environmental suit. Heads turned in his and Kalira’s direction, and Sentinel was looking at them, curiously. Kalira proceeded to turn bright red.

“So, you think she’s attracted to me because of my outfit?” Vader asked, thoroughly enjoying himself.

“Well, I mean, we really haven’t discussed it very much.” she said.

“No, no lying. You were doing so well.” Vader said, chuckling.

“Uhm, well, she likes your broad shoulders, your height.” Kalira said. She was dying to ask about his increase in height, but wisely kept that to herself. “She said you’ve got very beautiful eyes.”

“And what did you say to all of this?” Vader asked.

“Uhm... well, I like broad shoulders and tall men, as well, so I guess I can’t say anything bad about her physical attraction to you.” she said.

“Really... so, you are also attracted to me?” Vader asked, grinning broadly behind his mask.

“Uhm, I’m not sure you are my type, m’Lord.” she answered, nervously.

“Not your type? So, what about myself makes me not your type?” Vader teased.

“Uh... uh...” Kalira faltered.

Vader chuckled. Coming through his electronic voice enhancer, it sounded slightly like staticky clicks. “Not into Dark Overlords who rule with an iron hand?” he asked.

“Uh, well...”

Vader just chuckled some more. They danced some more in silence.

“Why are you attracted to Sasha, m’Lord?” she asked.

He gazed up at Sentinel, who was singing her heart out. His heart soared with her song.

“She’s beautiful... inside and out.” he finally answered.

“But you want to bring her back to the Dark Side. Will she still be beautiful inside if you do that?” Kalira asked.

Vader glared down at her, his good mood suddenly gone. “Do not speak about things you don’t understand.” Vader growled.

“I... I apologize, m’Lord.” Kalira said, carefully.

Vader continued to dance with Kalira, but stiffly. Kalira whimpered under her breath as the Dark Lord held her hand a little too tightly. She tried to think of something to bring back his good mood.

“M’Lord, Sasha has been greatly looking forward to seeing you again.” she said.

Vader’s grip on Kalira loosened, much to Kalira’s relief.

“What did she say?” Vader asked.

“She missed you. She says you are inside her soul.” Kalira said.

Vader was silent for a moment. “Thank you.” he said, at last.

Kalira smiled. Vader was very dangerous and volatile. However, in spite of herself, she found herself greatly liking the Dark Lord.

Goto Chapter Five


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